Friday, May 5, 2017

Raising Chickens with Lisa Steele for Inspiration

Chickens have been our life since 2010 when we moved to One Blessed Acre.  On my quest for self-sufficiency, I got a crazy notion in my brain that we could raise chickens .  Neither the General Manager nor I had ever had experience raising chickens.  We took on our backyard flock, with a box arriving at the post office at 1 AM one morning, in stride.  The kids were overly excited to participate and help raise these 25 little fluff balls that began our introduction into chickens.

Flash forward seven years and we are still raising chickens.  Some may call us crazy, but I believe we still have one of our precious firsts, her name is Daisy.  She is perfectly healthy, but doesn't lay one egg for us, but she brings us such joy.  Our chickens not only became our livelihood, but a part of our family.  It's been tough learning that farm animals do have their place in the order of life, but, while they are in our care, we make sure they have the best life possible.

One of my favorite authors is Lisa Steele, of Fresh Eggs Daily.  I have been re-reading her book, Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally.  Lisa has this ability to break down raising chickens into the simplest form ever.  I mean really, she basically tells us that if you can grow herbs and use essential oils, your flock will be happy, healthy and growing.  And if you haven't seen her new coop on her homestead in Maine, it's beautiful!

So, this last week, I've incorporated her Breakfast of Champion Layers Feed recipe into our normal rations.  I've added mint leaves to the coop to help repel rodents and insects.  Our overly abundant lemon balm this year is next to go into the coop.  This will look pretty, but also benefit the chickens with overcoming the chicken poo smell and as a laying stimulant.

Have you seen Lisa's new book; Gardening with Chickens?  It keeps staring at me when I pass by it at Tractor Supply.  Am I the only one who has books call out to her?  Please tell me NO!

My other favorite blog to follow is the Chicken Chick.  Have you checked out Kathy's site?   She has the most incredible story of how she overcame her neighborhood's discrimination in keeping a backyard flock of chickens.  This week I decided to make a batch of her Flock Block.  Our chickens are free-ranged for most of the day, but for several hours they are enclosed in our chicken run which is strictly dirt.  They needed and deserved an extra treat.  I had to substitute a few ingredients from Kathy's recipe, but for the most part I followed what she recommended. 

First the wet ingredients:

Then the dry ingredients, along with a jar of last year's canned apples.

Mix it altogether.  Spread out into several baking pans - mine made 3 large and 2 small cake pans.  Bake for two hours at 300, which was slightly too long.  Next time I will only bake for 1 1/2 hours.  They did come out a teeny bit burnt, but the birds didn't mind.  My daughter, Abby and I even put holes in the middle of each pan, but the chickens ate them too fast to even make that worth while. 

Will I notice greater egg production from this, probably not.  But, will I gain the satisfaction that I'm giving my birds healthy foods and supplements - ABSOLUTELY!  Those who stop by our farm stand and buy our eggs will be able to see by the health and vitality of our girls.  We cherish the fact that we have hand raised each bird, giving each one extra special attention and the best food possible.  And I always say if you stand in our yard long enough, one of the girls will probably come by and say "hello."

Raising chickens will be such a rewarding experience for you and your family.  I guarantee you'll fall in love with them as our family has.

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